Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
The case for optimism on climate change - "I'll finish with this story. When I was 13 years old, I heard that proposal by President Kennedy to land a person on the Moon and bring him back safely in 10 years. And I heard adults of that day and time say, 'That's reckless, expensive, may well fail.' But eight years and two months later, in the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, there was great cheer that went up in NASA's mission control in Houston. Here's a little-known fact about that: the average age of the systems engineers, the controllers in the room that day, was 26, which means, among other things, their age, when they heard that challenge, was 18." (via; previously) [more inside]
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
Some of the world’s most powerful conservationists are giving up on wilderness. They are making a big mistake [more inside]
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
Getting your groceries delivered might be greener than driving to the store. In a University of Washington study, delivery vs. driving reduced CO2 emissions by half. Where's Webvan when you need it?
After years of dedicated rehabilitation, the people of Mexico City have transformed from one of the worst environments in the world to one of the "greenest" cities in North America, but there are still challenges to be faced.
“So if we continue voting like this in the (House of Commons), there’ll be no b-day for me this year?” tweeted NDP MP Hoang Mai.
It is still June 13 for the Parliament of Canada, where voting has continued overnight on the "omnibus budget bill" (previously), due to 159 separate amendment votes that have been forced by the opposition. None are likely to pass, but the arduous process is meant to function as a protest against legislation which many critics have argued goes far beyond the scope of a traditional budget. [more inside]
Poo-Powered Rickshaw Unveiled At The Denver Zoo Poop. Is there anything it can't do? On Wednesday, The Denver Zoo introduced what is believed to be the world's first poo-powered motorized tuk tuk showcasing The Denver Zoo's very own patent-pending gasification technology.
The Great Debate: What's the most environmentally-friendly way to dry your hands in a public bathroom? Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have completed what is believed to be the first major study to assess the greenest way of drying your hands.
Nest is a "brave new thermostat" from one of the creators of the iPod. It learns from your temperature adjustments.
Despite the federal election focus on BC ridings, Vancouverites are having a hard time looking past the municipal. Things are quite dramatic in the urban planning scene. The city's regional growth plan was recently paralyzed by disagreement from Coquitlam. TransLink announced permanent cuts to bus service during Earth Week, describing it as "service optimization," highlighting its own chronic funding issues. The city successfully stopped a "megacasino" project after community backlash, but the $3 billion freeway Gateway Project continues despite ongoing protests. As the city struggles to find its way to the goal of Greenest City 2020, it's a good time to look at the paths not taken, via this excellent podcast on Vancouver's relationship with roadways. Part of a series called "Moving Through" from the Museum of Vancouver. [more inside]
Plastic fantastic? An unpublished United Kingdom Environment Agency research report apparently shows that plastic bags, which are banned in more than 25% of the world may actually be less harmful than those made of cotton or paper. [more inside]
Recent exploration drilling and 3-D seismic surveys reveal the U.S. Geological Survey's optimistic 2002 assessment of Alaska's untapped oil reserves is actually off by about 90 percent. Oil and Gas Online explains the new geologic analysis and difficulty predicting petroleum reserves.
Urban gardening and agriculture are becoming increasingly important as our world becomes more urbanized. Urban Gardening Help is for those environmentally conscious urban dwellers who want to use hydroponics and other tools to create a green corner devoted to nature in their own home. Urban Gardens looks for innovative and eco-friendly designs, trends, and ideas for the stylish urban home. See, for example, tiny herb gardens, where succulent cuttings come in small packages. Urban Garden Casual works with the constraints of limited-space, light, and micro-climates created from the shadows of neighboring buildings by using unconventional ideas like the garden pouch.
Francie Rehwald said she wanted a curved, feminine-shaped house for her Malibu lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so architect David Hertz designed her a home built from a scrapped 747.
The fire is out on the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. But since the rig sank last Thursday, Coast Guard officials believe about 13,000 gallons (7,400 bbl) of crude oil per day is coming out of the exploratory hole drilled by the rig, about 41 miles offshore from Plaquemines Parish, LA. "An early suggestion that damage would be minimal because the fire was consuming most of the fuel 'does have the potential to change,' BP official David Rainey told the New York Times." [more inside]
Whole Tree Architecture - if you'd like a house built by pioneering architect Roald Gundersen, your first step might be to hike in your nearby woods to choose some young, wind-bent, and diseased "Charlie Brown" trees. Small diameter round trees have 150% the strength of milled lumber and twice the strength of steel in tension. Besides structural and environmental advantages, whole trees make for some beautiful and naturally sculptured environments. [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
“Oh, it’s all bullshit. The high design? That has nothing to do with reality. That’s just architectural self-indulgence.” The greening of architecture is quite a contentious subject. Because of a renewed emphasis on traditional home-building methods, The Green Home of the Future is in many respects not dissimilar from The Green Home of Yesterday. A tornado in Greensburg, Kansas provided the impetus for a vote to decide on what green methods would define the movement in that small town. The competition's results stymied many architects' conceptions of what "green" should mean. But in New Orleans, larger-scale destruction by Hurricane Katrina has provided a unique opportunity for proponents of distinct conceptions of green innovation to bring their ideas to life. Opinions among residents are mixed.
Even if cars soon start running entirely on electricity or hydrogen, they'll still need 100 gallons or more of oil to make their plastic parts...
The globe’s networked ecologies of food, water, energy, and waste have established new infrastructures and forms of urbanism. While these ecologies exist at the service of our contemporary lifestyles, they have typically remained hidden from view and from the public conscience. Infranet Lab is studying the shifting / changing conditions. [more inside]
The Big Picture has photos taken during Earth Hour 2009. Click the photos to go from "lit" to "unlit." (Earth Hour home, wiki, previously)
Today marks the launch of the Tata Nano. Some see this car as the next Ipod. Some have grave environmental concerns. (previously)
Meta-efficiency is the analysis of efficiency at a more comprehensive level. Metaefficient Review assesses products considering not only their energy efficiency but also the embodied energy, toxicity, affordability, and usability. [more inside]
Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, talks about the ten big green energy myths.
Video report about the newly constructed "Urban Air Trees" in Madrid, Spain. These unique structures are designed to both affect the surrounding environment and act as a social centers. Using live plants and photovoltaic cells the Air Tree produces a substantial amount of oxygen and energy. Designed by Urban Ecosystems.
Rich people's rooftops in NYC offers a fun birds-eye view into a few sky-high secret decks and gardens. Roofs are the new frontier for innovative urban architects, but they aren't exclusive to the wealthy. All kinds of people and organizations are starting rooftop gardens. See the impressive results that two Chicago denizens had growing heirloom vegetables on their roofs (2). [more inside]
Want to know what actions can have the biggest impact on your carbon emissions? Bloom helps you choose actions tailored to your home and lifestyle, then lets you compare them by how much CO2 they save and how cheap they are. With background guides for recycling, organic foods, energy ratings, and emissions. From the BBC.
Enjoy life while you can. Because we're doomed. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable. James Lovelock is still at it. (Previously.)
A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V8 Chevy Tahoe? America, meet your 2008 Green Car of the Year!
These Come From Trees "Testing shows a 'These Come From Trees' sticker on a paper towel dispenser reduces paper towel consumption by ~15%"
"The model of economic development that we are currently pursuing is unsustainable. Our energy consumption per unit of GDP is seven times that of Japan, six times that of America, and even 2.8 times that of India. China’s labour productivity is less than 10 per cent of the world total, and yet our emissions are over 10 times higher than the global average." ~ Pan Yue - deputy director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Part of a new generation of outspoken Chinese senior officials, Pan has given rise to a tide of environmental debate, attracting enormous attention and controversy. Read his articles here : - China: economic powerhouse, environmentally unsustainable - part one and part two
Reduced-lead bullets and recyclable explosives are among the developments being put forward by arms manufacturer British Aerospace (BAE) as part of a major investment in ecologically-sound weaponry. The company, one of the world's biggest arms-makers, says it has been making investments in creating products that reduce the collateral damage of warfare.
Enertia is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now competition (previously). In an interview, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
For years, MDI has been developing a car that runs on compressed air. Last month, they signed an agreement with Tata Motors to produce the MiniCat - a zero-emissions vehicle that will travel up to 180 miles on $3 worth of fuel. See it in action here. (youtube)
Want to increase your energy efficiency and use more renewable energy? Want to install solar panels on your roof, buy a hybrid car, put in new storm windows, or make any number of other green improvements to your home or business? Want to save money doing it? DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just click on your state and take it from there.
When I grow up I want to be an environmental engineer. I want to work on projects that can provide potable water for people. I want to clean the polluted Mother Ganga [Ganges] who provides life giving water from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Or the Nile, both blue and white, spilling fertility from her bunds on a regular cycle. I want to design products that use the least amount of energy and fuel, from recycled materials and are biodegradable. I want to seek alternative sources of energy, such as using biofuel to power cellphones. I want to design with maximum constraints. Call her mother earth, gaia, demeter, ceres or inanna, our planet is on the brink of no return. Or is it all just a matter of perspective?
Dead Ringers: the Science Museum asks us the question "should we upgrade our mobile phone?" "No" and "no" say the Times and the Observer, but we still do: on average every 18 months. What's the problem? Well it isn't just the lead, arsenic, beryllium and brominated fire-retardant cases (pollutants all) disappearing into our land fills (which are not covered by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive [WEEE] in Europe). Coltan also goes into our phones. It occurs mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and as such our demand for upgrades has been contributing to a war (despite mobile phone companies' claims to the contrary, coltan is not regulated like timber). If we must upgrade, we can at least recycle or hack our old phones.
the new urban jungle. . . is a growing movement led by cities like San Francisco, New York, and Leiden to restore active and vibrant natural systems in urban areas. Far from the eden-like depictions of nature of yesteryear, i.e. the garden of earthly delights (nonetheless, still attracting some dynamic new christian converts), the movement has morphed into today's backyard and grassroots environmental movement which is more and more a picture of hybridity, compromise, mixed-use, and ultimately, taking nature out of the walled islands of zoos, aquaria, national parks and other thick-walled institutions and offering a different kind of everyday "unmediated" community experience with the new urban wilderness. VIDEO LINK
The Campaign Gore Can't Lose. Al Gore makes the case for global warming. (Trailer) Even the hard-bitten conservatives at the National Review are impressed. Can Al Gore lead the way to a new environmental majority?
Wood for the trees. The Forest Cafe in Edinburgh , a volunteer run , eco - friendly , creative space thats worth a look.
Neato Next Generation Truck Stops IANAT (I am not a trucker), so I had no idea trucks could just plug into truck stops complete with air conditioning, power, internet, satellite TV, etc. And the bonus is that these facilities are environmentally friendly since the truck doesn't have to be left running all night.
the tofte project cool web site. cool project. cool ideas. cool person. cool part of the country. cool use of flash. via k10k.net
Quitting Kyoto Though I too was angry when Bush end gang refused to get involved with Kyoto (environmental treaty), I might have let my ant-Bush feelings take over my "better self." Here an expert argues that all the world but the EU knows that the Kyoto treaty is worthless.
Not exactly "Green". "The trouble is, Nader seems uneasy being Green. He refuses to join the party (never has joined one, and swears he never will). And while he matches the Greens in anticorporate fervor—our current government is "of the Exxons, by the General Motors, and for the DuPonts," he says—the environment seems rather low on his policy agenda. Last year he devoted just three of his weekly syndicated newspaper columns to the subject. "
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